Kelly Taylor: Making a Splash

September 11, 2012

Most designers have piles of tattered magazine pages representing years of ideas they love. I love food, so my image stacks are loaded with kitchens. When you combine a foodie (and amateur chef) with a passionate designer, you end up with someone who is kitchen-obsessed.

When designing a kitchen, my process almost always starts with cabinet material and color selection. Then it’s on to counters, and that’s a complicated decision (which I’ll save for another post). Last, but not least, is my favorite part: the backsplash.

This photograph has topped my imagery pile for years: the simplicity of the kitchen design against the elaborate Ann Sacks tile background creates depth, contrast and serenity in the same space.

Design by Structures Building Company and tile by Ann Sacks. Photo by Tria Giovan

Revisiting this image reminds me how utterly tired I am of the white subway-tile backsplash. While there is no doubt that this go-to tile can be wondrously simple, perfectly suitable and economically sound, I am, well, frankly, bored.

Whether for highlights or low-lights, the backsplash is a place to make some noise, so don’t be afraid to use this space to show off your stuff. Here are a few things to think about when the time comes to choose yours.

Go bold: If you are willing to be playful, a colorful kitchen backsplash can transform the simplest kitchen.

Photo courtesy of

Accessorize: Jeffrey Court’s crushed-glass mosaic tiles lure the eyes to a sparkling gem in the midst of a wide open space.

Design by Kelly Taylor Interior Design. Photo by Nat Rea

Fortify the focal point: The backsplash is a design opportunity, but it doesn’t have to be a daring color to capture attention. In this kitchen, the central show-stopper highlights the range and reflects the patina-green pendants.

Design by Amy Aidinis Hirsch. Photo by Neil Landino Jr.

Continue the flow: In this large, open plan, green onyx mosaics highlight the accent colors from the adjacent living area.

Design by Kelly Taylor Interior Design. Photos by Nat Rea

Texturize: It’s not the white I am bored with; the all-white kitchen of your dreams can also be undeniably yours with this quilted Pratt & Larson tile.

Design by Feinmann, Inc. Photo by John Horner

Go for scale: While mosaics have been all the rage, an oversized tile for a backsplash can make a dramatic statement.

Design by and photo courtesy of Redmond Aldrich Design

Add class with character: Subway tile doesn’t have to be white or boring. This celadon green crackle tile provides the perfect soothing backdrop in this classic kitchen.

Design by and photo courtesy of Fiorella Design

Perhaps some of these ideas will enliven your own imagery pile. At the very least, I hope they inspire a double-take when you feel yourself heading for that albeit lovely, nevertheless lonely, white subway tile. Your kitchen is the soul of your home and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t showcase the essence of you.

-Kelly Taylor

Kelly Taylor is the recipient of New England Home Magazine’s 2012 “5 Under 40†award for excellence in design. She practices residential and commercial interior design in Providence, Rhode Island. Her work can be found at, or follow her on Twitter at @ktidnet.

For more on Kelly Taylor, check out:

5 Under 40 Preview – The Women

Kelly Taylor: At Home with Animal Print

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